If your answer to this question is, “I don’t know”, or “this is a silly question” or “I don’t need a mentor,” please keep reading. Mentors are part of your support network, similar to personal friends. Mentors serve a special function in all our lives despite our age, capabilities or experiences.
Perhaps you have experienced multiple employers under various titles in many environments compared to others your age. Congratulations for having broadened your professional portfolio. Perhaps you are retiring tomorrow. Or maybe you are reading this and it’s your first week in your professional career. Whether you fall under one extreme or the other or somewhere in between, it is essential you find at least one trusted mentor, preferably more. “The older, the wiser” is something all of us should remember regardless of our journeys.
There are always people who have differing views and alternate perspectives to offer you. They may not be smarter, wiser more experienced or better educated. That’s okay, a mentor doesn’t necessarily have to surpass all you’ve accomplished. But the reason mentors are important is because they will offer up questions and think of possible solutions under the purview of their own life experiences. Your main decision-making reference is your own view of the world as you’ve experienced it. When mentors share their views, their opinions, their success and failures, you have the advantage of learning vicariously through their lenses. Why does this matter? It matters because you are very limited to what you know based on your limited experiences. A mentor will offer up different perspectives that may have never crossed your mind.
Whether you retire tomorrow or in 40 years, a mentor can help you stay grounded, motivated and open-minded as you pursue your next goal. We are surrounded by so many other people in life, and every person has a story or lesson they can offer. Soak it in while you can and learn from others’ experiences and misfortunes. We are here to learn; the more you learn, the more you will understand how much there is to learn.